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June 2011

Margaret’s quilt

Margaret’s quilt

by Clare Mansell
Margaret's Quilt 6

After too many distractions, my first quilt of this year is finished. As I hinted in an earlier post there is a bit of a story attached to the making of this quilt.

I have made it for my HypnoBirthing coach, Margaret. Many years ago, before I had even met my husband, somewhere online, or in the papers, I came across the idea of hypnotherapy being used in natural birthing and I decided when my time came, I too would use it.

Margaret's Quilt 4

Many years and countries have passed us by since I first heard of it and with each new posting I have researched where the courses were available locally, just in case. Sometimes great distances would have been involved, sometimes the prices were high, but always there was a way we could have made it work – just. But our baby knew a thing or two, and it decided to wait till we got to Scotland, just 10 minutes down the road from a HypnoBirthing coach, before it would be born.

Margaret is a retired midwife with a great gift for making people feel at ease. The midwifery team locally know her well and fully support her method of teaching and everyone I have met who knows her, responds with a great deal of enthusiasm when her name is mentioned.

Margaret's Quilt 3

Where my official care has been a little haphazard (partly due to moving countries, partly due to the modern NHS) Margaret has provided some old-school consistency of care. We’ve had 5 classes with her (and another couple) and will have another one shortly before the baby is due. I have also asked, and I am hoping, that she will also be able to attend the birth.

I won’t know for some weeks if the HypnoBirthing will deliver the calm easy birth that it promises, but I do know that I have enjoyed every minute of the course and that we are both better informed and more confident for having attended it, so this quilt is just a small way of saying thank you. 

Margaret's Quilt 5

Now the quilt-related info…

This is a single size quilt, made with Moda Arcadia charm squares and cream cotton, in half square triangles and it’s bordered with Ecru linen. It’s actually exactly the same fabric and squares as this quilt, I have just arranged the blocks in a different way. I have a circle quilt I’m working on next, but I think I’ll be coming back to half square triangles for the quilt after next, they are so verstaile and easy to work with.

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Summer… at last.

Summer… at last.

by Clare Mansell

Yesterday my new home and I had a little bit of a falling out…

Hopeman Beach Huts

While nearly the whole of the UK was basking in sunshine, in Northern Scotland it poured with rain… all day.

And although there is more to life than good weather, it’s hard not to be a little glum when it feels like everyone else is enjoying a party you haven’t been invited to.

Through the Beach Huts

The radio, the newspapers and facebook were full of stories of people enjoying the sunshine further south, while we looked out of the windows and only saw grey skies and deepening puddles.

In London it was 30c and on the Moray Firth it topped out at 15c.

Hopeman Beach looking out on to the Moray Firth

But this morning something magical happened. My husband awoke me with the words “It’s a beautiful day outside” and he wasn’t (as I thought initially) being ironic! The skies were blue, the temperature had risen and Scotland was having a day of summer!

Blue stripes

I grabbed the camera and headed down to the beautiful beach at Hopeman, just along the coast from us. The sea was shimmering in the sunlight, the beach was deserted and dotted along the shore was a brilliant rainbow of beach huts.

A few hours of sunshine and Scotland and I are friends once more!

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Quilting update…

Quilting update…

by Clare Mansell
Moda Arcadia quilt top

If you found this blog last year, in the midst of my flurry of productivity with quilt making you are probably starting to wonder what’s happened to all the quilt making this year? 2011 has not (so far) been a fruitful year for me, partly due to the fact that I was without my machine for 3 months while it was in transit between Cyprus and Scotland, but things are changing. I currently have two quilts at various stages of production and I thought I’d give you a sneak peak of the completed top of one of them today.

This particular quilt should be finished next week, but it should have been finished today. However instead of having the busy week I intended I spent most of Sunday turning my sewing room upside down looking for 40 or so charm squares I needed to complete it and which had vanished into thin air overnight.

Eventually I concluded the only thing that could possibly have happened to them, was that my husband had swept them up with his clothes, packed them and driven them 500 miles south with him earlier that morning. Can you imagine how ridiculous I felt when I made the phone call to him and tentatively suggested he checked his luggage? He offered every suggestion going, from pregnancy brain (just don’t!) to them being “on the bed” (I’d been looking for 3 hours!) but grudgingly agreed to check his bag when he reached his destination.

And would you believe it, he DID have them! Don’t even ask me how it was possible to take them by accident. He claims they were “stuck to his shirt”! But as a result, I am now running 2 or 3 days behind… Next week I’ll show you the finished article (if husband doesn’t repeat his trick) and tell you the story about the lovely lady it is intended for…

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Croissant heaven

Croissant heaven

by Clare Mansell
Pain au chocolat 2

Stack of pain au chocolats


This morning I woke up with a cold, not just any cold, but a cold which comes in addition to the pregnancy rhinitus I’ve had since Christmas. Despite it’s lengthy duration, I’ve weathered the rhinitus fairly well, but getting a cold on top of it really feels like a kick in the teeth (was there no one else available to have it on my behalf just this once?) HOWEVER, the day was saved because I also woke up with croissant dough proving in the fridge.

So several hours, some repeated dough folding and 20 minutes in the oven later, I had 8 pan au chocolat and 8 croissants cooling on racks in the kitchen, and this dear readers, is one of those moments I am glad I blog! Because this week it is just me home alone, and there really is only so much standing around and saying “wow” that a girl can do on her own, and I’m just SO impressed that these actually worked! Don’t they look great?

The million dollar question of course is how many have I eaten? 😉 Well, in a remarkable show of restraint I have only had two and the rest will be frozen till the weekend, when I know a certain tall husband who will be very happy to have a couple for his breakfast on Saturday…

PS – For a link to the baking book, see below. These croissants (and all the bread) are made from scratch starting just with the raw ingredients of flour and live yeast.

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